DO I REALLY NEED A COVER LETTER?
You are not the first person to ask. Although there is no guarantee that every cover letter is read, a survey of human resource managers revealed that 30% of hiring professionals judged a candidate based on his or her cover letter. Is that a chance you want to take?
Your cover letter needs three key sections: first, you must show that you fully understand the job description the company’s need. Next, you should explain why you are the best candidate to meet this need. And finally, you must ask for the interview. In addition to these key elements, here are 10 guidelines to help you make the right first impression.
- Address Your Letter Correctly. Addressing the letter to “Sir or Madam” shows you did not take the time to research the hiring manager’s full name. At the least, you can always address the letter to the head of the department for the position you’re applying for.
- Write in the Company’s “Voice”. Review the company’s website to determine whether their style is casual or formal and then copy that style to show how well you will fit in.
- Don’t Waste Space Restating Your Name. Your resume will be attached, so get right to the point by telling the hiring manager what you can bring to the job.
- Keep Your Letter Short and Sweet. In general, cover letters should be one page.
- Be Yourself. You want to appear friendly and approachable not robotic.
- Keep Adjectives and Adverbs to a Minimum. Instead of writing about how this would be a “wonderful opportunity” or that you are thrilled to apply for this position, be real. Avoid words like “team player” or a “people person” because they are overused.
- Tell Them Something New. Use your cover letter to share a story about yourself and why you choose your career path or why you love the company’s products or services.
- Show Future Capabilities. Instead of explaining what you’ve done in the past, show hiring managers what you can do in the future.
- Use Numbers. Illustrate your impact by showing percentages. For example, “While working at Great Company, I increased sales by 20%. Employers love to see numbers—it shows them that you speak their language.
- Spell Check Plus. Have a friend read your letter and ask, “Does this letter sell me as the best person for the job?” If the answer is “No” polish your letter until you get a “Yes”.